Monday, January 21, 2013

Preparing my novel for Createspace

First off, I want to say that getting my book ready for the digital Kindle version took a fraction of the time that getting the paperback ready for Createspace did.

I opted for the $10 ISBN as opposed to the free Createspace one in hopes to be able to get my book onto the Barnes and Noble site. I’m not yet sure if that was a good decision or if the $99 one was a better choice. I’m not going to pursue getting my first novel into a library which I don’t think I can do with the $10 ISBN. It’s more time than I’m willing to put in at this point, but I might look into it for my next book. I just want to work on my next novel right now.

I have spent many hours out of many days formatting my book to be paperback-ready for Createspace. It was a nightmare. I went through the Community forums looking for answers, but got so many differing opinions and complaints about new problems I wasn’t aware of that I was reading and clicking around in confusion.

I heard complaints about the templates, but I tried one anyway. After hearing that there were problems with it, I assumed that it was faulty when I noticed that my Table of Contents looked skewed from one page to the next. I abandoned that template to type in my own measurements into a copy of my original Word file, and then realized that the template was actually correct to begin with. The Table of Contents was skewed to accommodate for the binding of the book. That was my mistake and something to think about when preparing yours.

I just wanted a simple, straightforward way to get my novel print ready. If you are in a similar situation, maybe this post can help you.

My novel contains 66,000+ words which I thought was a pretty good amount, so I chose the 6”x9” trim size. After hours of formatting, the book came out to be 179 pages. I discovered with that size of a book the spine would be too skinny for text to be comfortably visible and the book would be pretty thin.
I wrote all the specs down for the next size smaller which is 5.25”x8”. That was still too big. So, I went with the 5.06”x7.81”. Are you getting dizzy yet?

If you have a close enough word count to mine, just go with the 5.06”x7.81” trim size and save yourself some time. (My book proof is on its way in the mail. If I find a problem with this trim size or if it can be bigger, I will revise this paragraph).

I thought I was an expert at MS Word since I’ve used it for around 15 years, but when it came to tables (I’ve always had problems with tables) starting with the page number several pages in AND starting the header several pages in AND knowing the difference between page breaks and section breaks (both Next Page and Continuous) I was in the dark. Those are important things to know when you’re trying to publish a novel.

I found this video pretty quickly and it solved my problem with the header/footer/page numbers starting several pages in. It’s a short video.

Okay, so I found one thing wrong with the 5.06”x7.81” template. It sets the Vertical alignment to “Center” which I didn’t even know the meaning of in the first place. When my Table of Contents continued onto the next page, it started halfway down the page. It took me about an hour to figure it out. I thought the problem was with the header/footer. I finally looked it up online. I thought it was going to be hard to find but it’s a simple fix again. Follow these instructions:

Go to Page Layout, Page Setup, Set the Vertical Alignment to TOP

  • Don’t forget that your first paragraph of every chapter has no indent.

  • Don’t forget to add your ISBN # to your Copyright page.

  • Don’t forget to add a blank page after Acknowledgments, Dedication, and Table of Contents (if you have just one page) pages so they’re not double sided.

  • I also added this statement: The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

  • Remember to Justify your text alignment of the story.

There are so many darn rules. I’m sure I broke at least one of them somewhere.
Keep in mind, if you submit your story to a contest they may require a different format.

Once your document is formatted, you’ll see how many pages your book has. Don’t forget to add the page numbers of your chapters in the Table of Contents. Instead of scrolling back and forth to get the page numbers, I recorded myself saying the page numbers of each chapter into an audio recorder (I used the Voice Memo app on my iPhone) then played it back while I typed the page numbers in on my Table of Contents. 

If you don’t have an audio recorder, you can hit Ctrl+F, type in “Chapter 2” or whatever chapter you want to go to, then it will take you directly to that chapter where you can quickly get the page number. Hit Ctrl+F again, type in “table of contents” and it will take you back up to that page.

I hope at least some of this helped you.
I’ll post my experience with formatting the cover on another post. It’s an ongoing nightmare because I created my own cover from scratch.

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